Self-confidence is how much you believe in your ability to perform, and in hockey it is the number one asset when discussing your mental game. Self-confidence separates great athletes from the good athletes. Athletes with high self-confidence play more aggressive and focused compared to other athletes because they believe in their ability.
The two most common confidence killers are high expectations and self-doubt.
High expectations are demands that you place on your performance. If you fail to achieve these demands, you will lose confidence in your game. Instead of having high expectations for yourself, you’ll want to set smaller, mini or process goals. Process goals are the little things you need to do to perform well. Some examples of process goals might include playing one shift at a time, track the puck well, and letting go of mistakes quickly.
Doubt is the opposite of confidence. Hockey players might doubt their ability to performance under pressure during power plays for example. First, you must be aware when you have doubts. They can be subtle or direct doubts. When doubts enter in your mind, such as “why is coach playing me Alex more than me?” you want to refute them quickly. This is called reframing doubts, such as “I’m going to play my hardest each opportunity I get.”
Tips to improve your confidence before games:
Before games you’ll want to take control of your confidence. One way is to review the reasons why you should feel confident. Think about your strengths as a hockey player or what you’ve accomplished in hockey.
You can also think about drawing confidence from your practice and preparation, having good equipment, or support from parents and coaches.
The bottom line, you want to be proactive with your hockey confidence. Choose to be confident before each game. If you find yourself doubting or questioning your ability or playing time, think about your strengths as a player and practice positive self-talk.